Sunday, 1 November 2015

London - Byron Hamburgers

What do you do when you are catching up with a mate you haven't seen in ten years?  Well, you head for a burger of course!

I was in London for work and caught up with one of my favourite bosses from days gone by, Johnzo. Apart from being awesome catching up, Johnzo took me along to that time honoured tradition in London of afterwork drinks down at the local pub.  That we were at Canary Wharf meant that we had to tackle a pub in shiny new building, but strangely once through the front door, it was largely still an old style pub.

Anyway, I'm not gonna talk about the pub, this is after all a food blog first and foremost.  While we were at the pub, Johnzo had been banging on about this burger place around the corner that we had to visit.  Not for the burgers, but for a side that he rated as the best in town.  Me?  I was happy to get along for a burger, as after visiting a slew of two Michelin starred restaurants (The Square, Hibiscus, Marcus), I was looking for something much more casual.

It was a short walk from the pub to our destination, a burger chain called Byron.  I'd initially thought it might have been named after Byron Bay in Australia, but no, owner Tom Byng had been inspired after a four year stint in America, where he 'ate enough burgers to sink the Titanic'. Wanting to bring back that authentic US of A style burger to the 'old country', Tom had the craving for the classic and simple stylings from his favourite spot in the US, Silver Top in Providence, Rhode Island.  

Located on the top floor of one of the many shopping centres in Canary Wharf, Byron was quite a modern looking diner, with a semi industrial feel to it.  The restaurant was centred around a huge open bar in its centre and the kitchen was off to the side.  There was a large group of us, so we were shown to a table at the back of the restaurant, a little bit out of harms way.  I'm not sure what they thought, maybe the sight of a couple of Aussies in a burger joint normally meant trouble?  

Anyway, we got a copy of the menu and got some drinks underway, beers for Johnzo and the rest of the table and a Bugs Brownie thick shake for me that comprised of salted caramel and a home made brownie.  Not sure what I was thinking there!  I have to say that I'm not a fan of mixing salted caramel and brownie together - next time I'll stick with the vanilla!

After much encouragement and hearing the stories of this incredible starter, I ended up ordering the Iceberg Wedge.  As the name suggests, it was a quarter 'wedge' of iceberg lettuce which came with crispy bacon, blue cheese dressing, croutons and chives.  I'm not gonna lie here, I thought Johnzo was nuts when banging on about how great the dish was, I mean, I hate blue cheese, so I couldn't imagine that I'd like blue cheese dressing.  Well, despite all logic, the simple starter was indeed incredible!  The simplicity of the lettuce mixing in with the sweet blue cheese dressing and crunchy bacon bits was superb.  It was the only part of the meal where no one was talking!

Right, after such a tasty starter, I wondered how the burger could possibly top it off?!  I'd been eating some of the best burgers I've ever had in Hong Kong, so the Byron burger had to be good to compare.  I decided to go simple with the 'Byron', a 6oz hamburger with dry cured bacon, mature cheddar cheese, shredded iceberg, tomato, red onion and the secret Byron sauce.  I love it when a burger joint asks me how I want my burger, and of course I ordered mine medium rare! I wanted to see that pink and juicy beef :)

The burger came and it looked pretty good, the ration of bun to salad to patty was just about right and I could see the cheddar had melted nicely over the beef patty.  The bun was a soft brioche, lightly toasted and slightly sweet.  My patty was indeed cooked medium rare but lacked a little seasoning and was a bit bland.  The cheddar went a little way to improving the flavour, but didn't quite get there.  I also found the bacon to be a little lacking in flavour, perhaps it needed a little extra frying?

The rest of our group had pretty much the same burger, although one of the burgers came out open style and had a massive field mushroom sitting on top of the patty.  The salad was in a bowl on the side, so it wasn't really a burger per se, more of a gluten free option.

Look, the burger wasn't the best burger I've had and when you consider it was based on New York style burgers, I found that it just lacked a little bit of the flavour that I'd experienced when visiting the US (see NYC burger post here).  The ingredients were indeed fresh and well put together, but it just lacked a little 'punch', but then again, I've had far worse too!

But for me, it wasn't about the burgers, it was about catching up and shooting the shit with Johnzo and that was mission accomplished.  At least I know it won't be another decade or so before I catch up with the big guy - I'm hoping to be back in London soon enough - maybe next time we can hit up a Michelin starred place ;)

Of course, the beer's name was Byron too!
All the right condiments
yeah, these were some comfy seats 
Not sure where those stairs went?!

Byron Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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